Blackwedged butterflyfish Chaetodon falcula

Blackwedged Butterflyfish – Facts and Photographs

Blackwedged butterflyfish Chaetodon falcula

The Blackwedged butterflyfish, Chaetodon falcula is also known as the Saddled butterflyfish and Double saddled butterflyfish. They belong to the subgenus Rabdophorus and are very similar looking to the Pacific double saddle butterflyfish or false facula as it is known.


The body of the blackwedged butterflyfish is white with thin black vertical lines on it. The anal, dorsal and dorsal fin are yellow and orange with the yellow coming onto the body towards the tail and dorsal section.There are two saddles on on the front and back of the dorsal fin. A vertical black line goes through the eye and over the top of the head. There are a few horizontal yellow lines across the top of the face.

Blackwedged butterflyfish Chaetodon falcula


Blackwedged butterflyfish are a fairly common sight on East African reefs, usually seen in pairs and sometimes small groups on the reef. Divers can get quite close to them as long as they approach slowly. They will always be close to a ledge or hole and if one approaches too closely will quickly go into hiding.


They are found throughout the tropical Indian ocean from the northern South African coast , Madagascar, Seychelles and Chagos islands north to Kenya and across to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Indonesia and Vietnam and Taiwan.

Blackwedged butterflyfish are generally seen on the reef slope or on top of the reef but are also found on rich coral in seaward lagoons. The juveniles often hide in stag horn coral.

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They are carnivores that mainly feed on anemones, coral polyps and a variety of benthic invertebrates within their natural environment. On the reef they can be seen continually picking at coral polyps.


They form monogamous pairs as do many other butterflyfishes and are sometimes seen in small groups. Spawning is thought to take place in relation to the lunar cycles but this is not certain. The eggs are spherical and buoyant and it is thought they hatch in 28 to 30 hours, once the eggs hatch a bony plate forms over the head area and the larvae are pelagic for quite some time before developing into juveniles. This phase makes it extremely difficult to breed them in aquariums.

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They are one of the easier butterfly fishes to keep, being less fussy than some other species. They will probably be fine with most soft corals but will pick on hard corals and are likely to destroy these in a tank.

When introducing them into a tank it is best to offer a variety of carnivore foods to induce them to eat. If they have not eaten for several days it might be necessary to feed them live foods. As with all the butterflyfishes they require ample hiding spots as well as plenty of open space for swimming.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Chaetodontidae
Genus: Chaetodon (but see text)
Subgenus: Rabdophorus
Species: C. (R.) falcula


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The Reef Guide: Southern Africa’s East and South Coasts
Dennis King and Valda Fraser

The butterflyfishes: success on the coral reef
edited by Philip J. Motta


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